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Talk Less, Smile More at Your Interview

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Talk less, smile more. Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, Missouri, San Diego, California, and Washington DC. Talk less, smile more. What does that mean? Well, that is a line for those who follow theater from the awesome, tremendous musical Hamilton about the life of Alexander Hamilton. And it comes from an early scene in the play when Aaron Burr, who actually ends up being the person, hashtag spoiler alert, who shoots Alexander Hamilton. Aaron Burr is giving Alexander some advice and he tells him that his philosophy is talk less, smile more. And of course, Aaron Burr is the bad guy in the play, and we don’t want to root for Aaron Burr, but his advice does come into play. And it’s good advice for when you’re attending your USCIS interview.

That was a long way of getting to this idea that when you go to your interview, the less you say the better. The shorter answers you give the better. The clear that you speak the better. And the time that there is silence in the room is best spent smiling. So smile during your interview, smile more. When there’s a pause, when the officer is looking through their paperwork, you want to smile and you want to talk less. I always tell my clients as we get ready for the interview. If you can answer with a yes or no, answer with a yes or no. You’re not there to tell your life story. You’re not there to tell jokes. You’re not there to explain your answers. Your job is to answer their questions truthfully, and as quickly as possible. If you can answer them with one word, one word answers will set you free. Long winding meandering, detailed tangential answers will cause you trouble because when you give a long windy answers, you start getting long windy questions. And the more questions you have, the more problems you have.

So when you’re getting ready for your interview, think about Aaron Burr’s advice to Alexander Hamilton and think to yourself, how do I answer this question with a yes or no? I mean, the good thing is that many of the questions, especially many of the questions about inadmissibility on the green card application or about ineligibility for citizenship, you’re mostly going to answer no to those questions anyway, as long as that’s true. So the system is set up for 90% yes or no questions, maybe 95%, maybe 85%. So there’s really no reason for you to say yes but, no and. You don’t want to be doing any of that stuff. You don’t want conjunctions. You don’t want but or and to be part of your answers, unless you have to. Obviously you have to clarify things and you have to be honest and you have to be as direct as possible, but at the same time, if you can keep your answers short, and if you can be pleasant during your interview, that’s going to go a long way to get in your case approved.

So do what Aaron Burr says. Do what Lin-Manuel Miranda says, talk less, smile more. If you have questions about this, give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. Be sure to join us on our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. If you like this video, we’d love it if you shared it out on social, and if you could subscribe to our YouTube channel. And don’t forget most Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon central, you’ll find me answering your immigration law related questions for about an hour in the Facebook group and on our YouTube channel. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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